Marcus Larson##Ranger the dog fetches his stick at Joe Dancer Park Thursday morning. The park flooded when high water levels on the South Yamhill River caused it to jump its banks.
Marcus Larson##Ranger the dog fetches his stick at Joe Dancer Park Thursday morning. The park flooded when high water levels on the South Yamhill River caused it to jump its banks.
Marcus Larson##The South Yamhill River swollen from the heavy rain, floats past Three Mile Lane Bridge.
Marcus Larson##The South Yamhill River swollen from the heavy rain, floats past Three Mile Lane Bridge.
By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Soggy county likely to receive more rain

By late Thursday morning, county roads closed by flooding earlier in the week had all been re-opened, although some were still being restricted to one lane of traffic. However, Highway 22 will remain closed indefinitely about 2.5 miles east of Dolph Junction, on past Grand Ronde, thanks to a massive sinkhole that destroyed both lanes of the highway.

Locally, according to county Public Works Director John Phelan, “For the most part, it’s fix and repair day. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll put Band-aids on some of the problem areas, then go back and fix them when we get a chance.”

The South Yamhill River in McMinnville crested on Wednesday at 51.85 feet, nearly two feet above flood stage. It has since begun subsiding.

Near Willamina, the river crested on Monday at 14.72 feet. By Thursday, it had dropped back to 9.89 feet.

The county received a thorough drenching this week. So did the city of McMinnville, where the National Weather Service recorded 1.69 inches Monday, 1.28 inches Tuesday and .49 of an inch Wednesday.

A number of city and county roads flooded. Several cities and the county provided sandbags for residents needing to divert floodwater from their property. And both the city and county had parks that were still underwater. But the rainfall remained well under record levels.

Phelan said his department had been running 24-hour crews all week, and probably would continue to do so “until the wind and the rains subside.” He said he and his crews were exhausted, but continuing to work.

He praised his employees for their positive attitudes and teamwork. He also praised the county sheriff’s office and YCOM dispatch center, who work closely with Public Works during severe weather events.

“They’re kind of the unsung heroes in an event like this,” he said. “They’re our eyes out in the field in an event like this.”

Phelan said the flooding “pretty much affected every road we had,” toppling trees and washing away thousands of dollars worth of gravel. The massive amount of rain that fell Monday morning caused most of the problems, he said, overwhelming creeks, ditches and culverts with the sheer volume of water.

Adding to the problem, ditches still contained leaves and branches, he said, because there hadn’t been enough water flowing through them earlier to carry the material away. He said county crews had been focusing on that problem earlier, to try to abate as much risk as they could ahead of time.

The drenching did help to replenish soil moisture. However, nearly the entire eastern half of the state remains in extreme drought, and most of central and southern Oregon in severe drought.

Clatsop, Columbia, Washington and half of Tillamook counties have been upgraded to “normal,” according to the latest update by the U.S. Drought Monitor. And Yamhill, Polk, Lincoln, Benton and parts of Lincoln and Marion counties have been upgraded to “abnormally dry.”

Both Washington and Oregon still have below normal snowpack for the time of year. Although the massive storms sweeping through dumped plenty of rain, they did not add much in the way of snowpack, thanks to unusually warm temperatures.

By Thursday morning, McMinnville had received 6.66 inches of rain for the month – nearly five inches above normal — and 34.48 for the year — still slightly below normal. The forecast calls for more rain, with temperatures in the 40s.

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS